What should be the screen time for kids? This question has become the major concern of today due to the massive technological inventions. Almost every one of you is facing this challenge.
Moreover, it’s quite onerous to oversee it because your child has indubitably susceptible access to using it.
According to the guidelines published by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), children between the ages of three and five should spend no more than two hours a day using screens. The guidelines also suggest that parents establish a Family Media Plan for older children, where screen time is replaced with other healthy activities.
In 2017, the Center on Media and Child Health, in collaboration with the University of Alberta, conducted a study on the benefits and risks of screen-based media use. The results show that screen-based media is not beneficial for children under the age of two. Although the American Academy of Pediatrics discourages excessive screen time for young children, the guidelines state that parents should limit screen time for older children. If their child is under two, experts recommend that parents restrict the use of screens.
The World Health Organization suggests a weekly limit of two hours for children. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry recommends a maximum of one hour per day for children two to four years of age. In addition, the academy suggests creating a Family Media Plan to replace screen time with other healthy activities. Even if your child is not old enough to fully understand the benefits of screen-based media, you can still introduce new apps and shows to your child.
According to the CDC, the average kid aged 8–18 years uses a screen time of 7.5 hours per day. However, the CDC recommends at least 60 minutes per day. To cut it short, in a nutshell, if the average sleep is 8 hours, then it means they are spending about 43% of their time in front of the screen.
“Screen time for kids is three times more than the recommended amount.” (Duerden)
Studies have shown that children can learn and grasp concepts more swiftly through the guidance of their parents and adults, apart from watching videos and manipulating their valuable time on electronic and social media. In addition to this, the less they are engaged with their parents and adults, the less they perform during their elementary school days.
Increased screen time can cause:
The sitting of kids for long hours in front of a screen can cause obesity because of the exorbitant intake of junk foods and lack of physical activity.
• Behavior modification:
Due to immoderate exposure to the screen, kids are becoming violent and belligerent. Behavior change can increase the level of frustration, and because of it, there are more chances to indulge in nefarious activities.
• Tiredness and agitation:
The level of restlessness is incredibly augmented while sitting in front of the TV or by the excessive use of mobile phones or laptops because of the harmful rays that are unknowingly entering their bodies. However, kids become vigilant by engaging in different physical activities, and this in turn also increases their capacity to perform different tasks more effectively and efficiently.
• Disinterest in studies:
Long periods of time spent in front of a screen can lead to a lack of interest in studies.Likewise, there are more eventualities of poor performance in academic activities. In addition, screen time also decreases and snubs their creativity. Various negative stereotypes are formed as a result of monotonous TV shows, YouTube videos, and social media websites.
• Asthenopia, also known as eye fatigue:
Eye fatigue or short-sightedness are the major problems among kids nowadays due to long-lasting screen usage. Most likely, it is also because the kids are sitting extraordinarily near to televisions or using mobile phones, which puts them closer to their eyes.
Lack of learning ability:
Because the children spend so much time on screens, they are unable to learn or acquire new skills.Furthermore, they are becoming introverted towards their parents and lack effective communication skills.
How to overcome the kids’ screen time usage:
Because of the advancement of technology, this issue has become increasingly intriguing and challenging for parents to overcome. Some of the ways to tackle this issue are given below:
• Establish a positive relationship with the child:
To cope with this problem, parents should build strong relationships with their kids. In this way, they can spend more time with their kids. Accordingly, they could let them avoid excessive usage.
• Encourage the child to acquire new skills:
Learning different skills helps kids to become innovative and somehow can assist them in eluding media and technological manipulation.
• Extracurricular and extracurricular activities:
Parents must believe in the spirit of their kids to take part in numerous outdoor activities, including co-curricular activities at school. Physical activities are necessary to vanquish restlessness, stress, and anxiety levels in them. It makes them active, up-to-date, and physically and mentally strong.
• Set a good example:
Kids usually imitate their parents, so they can also set an example for their kids. George Herbert Mead also described this in his theory of socialization. He was of the view that there are four basic stages of child evolution, i.e.,
1. acting as a model
2. Participating in games
3. Participating in in-game activities
4. Identifying the generalized other
Parents must try their best to limit their own screen time to set an example for their kids.
• Watch with your children:
Co-watch means keeping an eye on the media usage of their kids. In this way, parents can reduce their kids’ screen time to the recommended level.
• Effective time management and planning:
Parents need to manage the timetable of their kids; otherwise, the prolonged exposure to screen time could be hazardous for their health and studies. Proper planning can enable them to carry out daily tasks in a much better way.
It is the need of today to set the screen time of kids properly. As per the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the recommended screen time should be limited under the supervision of caregivers for kids aged between 18 and 24 months. Children aged 2–5 years should use it for about one hour per weekday, whereas children older than six years should also use it for a limited time and mostly for educational purposes.
All the family members are advised to turn off the screens during their mealtimes and 30-60 minutes before bedtime. To cut it short, there must be positive and healthy use of the screen with consistency and proper time-management and it must be under the supervision of some guardian.